Goodbye to an Old Friend


Screen Shot 2012 12 08 at 11 54

I’ve finally had it with Simplenote sync. 

I’ve been using Simplenote for several years, and have gladly paid the subscription fee for the Pro version two years running. At $19.99 a year, that’s a lot to pay for an app that doesn’t provide much that the likes of IA Writer doesn’t. The latter doesn’t feature tags, or the brilliant search mechanism that Notational Velocity on the Mac made so popular, but that’s fine. I can still use Notational Velocity with Dropbox sync.

The great thing about Simplenote sync was that it was instant. If you think Dropbox is fast, you haven’t experienced the wonder of making a change on a Mac and knowing that the changes are already on your handheld before you’ve had a chance to pick it up to check.

Right now I’m sitting through a Simlpenote Dropbox duplication sync and watching duplicates of files appear over and over. NVAlt, a popular fork of Notational Velocity, also seems to be having problems with Simplenote sync of late and I think Brett Terpstra has pretty much given up on it. When Michael Schechter of A Better Mess wrote this, I decided to clip it and come back to it later to finally kick the Simplenote habit, which I did today.

Of course, given my “one-more-go” nature, I decided I’d have another look at the Simplenote Dropbox sync to see if I could get it to work. I copied my notes into a new Dropbox folder, pointed Simplenote at it and watched as it duplicated everything religiously and I got notification after notification of files being added to Dropbox. Enough is enough.

So, given the issues with the sync, and given that this was the only real benefit of Simplenote, and despite the fact that my subscription is paid until august 2013, I’m going to have to say a sad goodbye to the longest lived piece of 3rd party software on my iPhone.

Fitness Diary Comparison: Evernote vs Day One vs SImplenote

A few days ago I started keeping a “fitness” diary. This involves the entry of everything that goes into my body bar repeating medications. I recommend it for no other reason than it stops you reaching for that fourth Krispy Kreme because of the effort of updating your diary.

I’m keeping a Notebook in Evernote for this purpose, which also has proven useful in collating other information about improving my health in general. There’s only one problem with this approach, Evernote is slow. In fact, it’s unusably slow on an iPhone.

The iPhone, like most smartphones, is designed for reflexive, repetitive twitch use. So I pull it out of my pocket, fire up an app, do something and put the phone away. There is usually no time for waiting around. Evernote spends so much time synchronising that it’s pretty much a non-starter unless you’re sitting on a bus and have time to kill.

So I thought about using Day One, my favourite journalling app (which I use across iPad, iPhone and a couple of Macs of course) but the sync on that is flakey at best. I’ll make some updates at night on the Mac and the next day I’ll pull out the iPhone and iPad and despite syncing, they’re showing me two different versions of the file. Force-quitting and relaunching doesn’t help.

A less important issue on Day One is that Markdown formatting is supported on the iOS versions, but strangely, not on the Mac version, where I would find it most useful, but this is an issue that doesn’t have a bearing on my diary-entry problem.

Looks like I’ll have to stick with trusty old Simplenote, synced to Notational Velocity on the Mac. I recently paid for the Premium version of Simplenote and find it almost unbearably elegant. The only sync issues I’ve ever had with Simplenote stem from my desire to integrate my iA Writer documents with my Simplenote folders. Although the Premium version of Simplenote allows for Dropbox syncing, their site offers stern warnings against integration with other applications.

Once I’ve finished entering a day’s worth of data, I create a new note in Evernote and copy and paste. Not the neatest workflow, but a lot faster than using Evernote on the iPhone directly. The downside? Neither Evernote nor Simplenote display Markdown formatting, but I can live with that. The whole point of Markdown after all is that it doesn’t need to be displayed formatted.

In my ideal cloud, one folder on a server somewhere would hold my documents, which would be seamlessly mirrored to my connected devices, of which the Mac would be just one. Not long to wait for iCloud.